MILLSTADT, IL - The survivor of a violent attack with a shovel and a hammer in Millstadt, Illinois, shared his story with Fox2/News 11, Tuesday.
People are calling him a hero. He's adamant, that's not the case.
“[I’m not] ready to die yet. I enjoy life,” Charlie Fleming said through tears.
One of the things he’d enjoyed for years was helping clean up at closing time at Reinhardt’s tavern.
It closed more than 4 hours early Thursday night after the owner’s son, Wesley Reinhardt, 45, of Millstadt, allegedly threatened workers, most of whom left out of fear around 8:30 pm.
Fleming, 68, was taking out the trash when Reinhardt attacked, he said.
The memory of it was far worse than the shovel wound to the back of his head.
“He ran towards me and he said, ‘I’m going to kill them all. I’m going to kill them all’,” Fleming recalled.
Reinhardt threatened to kill his own father and the tavern’s staff, Fleming said.
Fleming’s wife was inside the tavern, too.
Fleming stepped in as Reinhardt went for the back door.
“I just kind of stepped maybe a little bit sideways and ‘pow’,” he said. “He cold-cocked me, knocked my glasses off, broke them…I was bleeding from both ears, both eyes, my mouth, my nose.”
The punches and kicks continued until he could no longer get up, he said.
Fleming eventually got himself into the tavern. A worker called the police.
Reinhardt’s father and a few others went back outside with Fleming to find his glasses.
Wesley Reinhardt had returned, he said, with a trench shovel in one hand and a hammer in the other.
“What he was doing was he was hitting me with the back side of the claw hammer,” Fleming said, pointing to puncture wounds on his arm. “He made a comment before he hit me with a shovel when I was picking my glasses up, ‘someone’s going to die’. Everybody heard that. His dad heard that.”
Workers who feared they, too, could be hurt or worse, called Fleming a hero.
“I am not a hero,” he said, again fighting tears. “I was protecting my wife. I just want people to know he’s animal…he’s going to get what he deserves.”
Fleming is an artist. For now, his injuries are keeping him from that. Sadly, he had to leave a hospital security job 16 years ago, after a patient beat him with an angle iron, he said.
Reinhardt is jailed on charges of attempted murder and battery.
His bond is set at $750,000 which is consistent with a charge of actual murder.
His criminal record goes back to his teens in St. Clair County and Monroe County in Illinois, along with Jefferson County in Missouri.
He also currently faces misdemeanor charges from an incident in July, including assault with a deadly weapon.
He was reportedly armed with a baseball bat.